Personal Note: There will be no news next week, but it won’t be because I’m at San Diego Comic Con, it will be because a man will be gouging out sections of my body. So you’ll have to get your SDCC news elsewhere. I’m hoping this surgery will resolve the awful health problems I’ve had this year, but the prognosis isn’t good. If you believe in God, Gods or Satan, prayers are accepted. Now back to our regularly scheduled nonsense…
This seems to be the year that BOOM! Studios makes all the big moves. Last week, they announced a merger with the well-respected, Eisner-winning Archaia publishing company, and this week they sign a true legend to an exclusive contract. He’ll write and draw his own title for the first time in almost a decade, and he’ll contribute covers and artwork to other books in the publisher’s lineup. I haven’t been a huge fan of his writing, other than his Wonder Woman book for DC, but lots of people really liked his work on the New 52 Superman relaunch, from which he was unceremoniously booted by DC—and which led to Perez joining the ranks of respected creators who are parting ways with DC after long, lucrative histories with the company due to what they allege to be disrespectful practices by editorial (others include Greg Rucka and Paul Jenkins).
To be fair, these creators have also had issues with Marvel.
On the one hand, it may be that Marvel and DC are becoming so corporate that there’s no room for out-of-the-box thinking. On the other hand, I don’t think that’s entirely true: Books like DC’s The Movement and Marvel’s Hawkeye prove that these companies still take risks. I suspect it has something more to do with the cost to pay someone like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, or Ed Brubaker, when younger upstarts can be bought cheaper (e.g., Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire). And when these younger upstarts get name recognition then they, too, can move on to creator-owned pastures.
In fact, if Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko had gotten started today, maybe they could have just left Marvel earlier—before all the acrimony—and taken their name-brand, which was built on Marvel’s investment, elsewhere.
I respect creators’ rights, but I also respect that it’s the publisher that takes all the economic risk and without whom there’d be no distribution. Many big name creators can work successfully with both the Big 2 and on creator-owned projects (Mark Waid, Matt Fraction, Bryan Wood, Jimmy Palmiotti, etc.). So it doesn’t HAVE to be acrimonious. I like my sugary sweet X-Men comics, and I like my hardcore The Lazarus, and I like my experimental Mind MGT. I like it all.
Can’t we all just get along?
In other news….
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY DETAILS. Benicio del Toro signed on for more than one movie and will be playing my favorite Marvel cosmic baddie: The Collector. Seriously, I love that dude more than Galactus, the big Kree intelligence head with all the worms coming out of it, and Terrax the Tamer. He’s this really old guy who’s a hoarder. How can that not be the best villain ever? Also, his storyline in The Avengers #174 is one of my favorite Avengers stories ever. It sounds to me like the story of the movie will probably include some of the concepts from that arc and the Korvac arc (maybe replacing Korvac with Thanos). Other non-Guardian-team roles will include Ronan the Accuser and Nebula.
DC SELLS COMIC BOOKS… Superman Unchained #1, by DC’s current hottest writer (Scott Snyder) and one of comicdom’s hottest artists (Jim Lee), priced at $5, made over $1.25 million in sales. I read it. I don’t get what the big deal is. Batman Zero Year #1 (a.k.a. Batman #21), also by Snyder, had huge sales numbers as well, as did Greg Pak/Jae Lee’s Batman/Superman #1. These three books took the three top spots, with Marvel getting the fourth and fifth slots with their Age of Ultron event books. Surprisingly, Kick-Ass 3 #1 placed in the top ten, coming in tenth, probably due to all the Jim Carrey hubbub. Don’t cry for Marvel, though. They still dominate overall retail market share 33% to DC’s 30%.
…WHILE IMAGE SELLS GRAPHIC NOVELS. Three of the top four trade paperbacks sold in June were volumes of Walking Dead and Saga, which is predictable, but BOOM! continues to be a force here coming in at #3 with the latest volume of Adventure Time (it was #1 last month).
AND SPEAKING OF IMAGE: IMAGE COMICS’ DIGITAL SITE. In a move that can only be described as necessary, Image Comics is selling directly to the reader DRM-free comics in a variety of e-reader formats. This is bold—it assumes that loyal consumers will outspend losses due to piracy (which, frankly, happen anyway), but it could be even bolder. And better. You’re still paying full price for a digital comic, even though Image doesn’t have to print, publish, and distribute the book. Maybe that’s necessary right now to prop up the rest of its publishing line, but it seems to be that $4 for something that takes 15 minutes to read is still steep, particularly when there’s no opportunity for resale or collectability. So here’s my suggestion to Image: Give digital buyers credit towards ordering the trade paperback. Better still, make it a credit that can be used either on Image’s Web site or at a brick-and-mortar comic shop. It doesn’t have to be full credit—it could be buy 6 digital issues, get 6 bucks off the trade. Something. Anything. But in the meantime, all the awards and kudos go to Image making this bold move.
DC CANCELS ONE OF ITS BEST BOOKS. DC is cancelling three of its digital-first books: Ame-Comi Girls, Arrow, and Legends of the Dark Knight. That last one has consistently been pretty good. I’m waiting for them to issue a trade paperback collection of Injustice: Gods Among Us.
LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN GETS A TV DEAL. Fox will produce a pilot of the acclaimed series that I never liked and was already turned into a movie that sucked. Best of luck making a network show about an invisible rapist.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR. DC’s next straight-to-DVD animated feature will be “The Flashpoint Paradox,” featuring the Flashpoint event that rebooted the DC universe and took something that wasn’t broken, was adequate (but not great), and smashed it into little, irreconcilable pieces. I’m actually looking forward to it, though, because DC’s movie toons have generally been pretty good. I also thought that Flashpoint had lots and lots of unrealized potential: It was a good idea done badly. Anyway, TFP premiers at Comic-Con, but they’ve also announced that the next movie will be “Justice League: War” based on the first New 52 JL story (by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee). It’s notable that they’re focusing on the League and not any single character, since rumors of a JL movie abound. It also appears that they’re setting up a “new 52” animated universe. Because the comic book version doesn’t suck hard enough.
OFFICER DOWNE: THE MOVIE. Joe Casey and Chris Burnham’s Image comic is greenlit for a movie treatment, with the screenplay written by Casey himself and the director to be…. Slipknot’s drummer. Weird.
DOCTOR STRANGE: THE MOVIE. Rumors abound that Marvel is looking at Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the lead role. Makes sense to me. Christopher Nolan set him up to be the next Batman at the end of his Bat-trilogy, so why wouldn’t Marvel try to steal him away preemptively?
NEW PAINKILLER JANE. Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada’s creator-owned character, who actually was the star of a (bad) TV show, is returning to Marvel’s creator-owned Icon imprint label. Palmiotti will be writing, with a new art team, a 4-issue mini starting November.
CHASTITY. And speaking of skimpy outfitted tough girls, Dynamite’s Chastity character, who spun out of the Evil Ernie comic into her own series, just got a development deal with an Emmy-award winning writer, Scott Winant. I’m sure it’s because the comic is so great and not because chastity seems to be the sexual fetish of the day. It was even featured on Netflix’s new series Orange is the New Black.
MARVEL KNIGHTS: HULK. Yes! A Hulk book to be excited about! Mark Waid is doing a good job on Indestructible Hulk, but overall it’s an above average telling of a fairly standard story. It’s “indestructible,” not “indispensible.” But Marvel just lured two of Image Comics’ most exciting creators of the past year or so, Joe “Glory/Hell Yeah” Keatinge and Piotor “Sex” Kowalski. It’s a “Knights” story, so need to be bogged down slavishly with continuity (it’s much looser in the Knights books), and the creators will be able to let loose and rampage. The story will be about what if Hulk had amnesia in Paris. Oooh la la!
SHIELD. Last but not least, Joss Whedon’s TV show will premier on September 24. Can’t wait!